I love etymology.
For those unfamiliar with the term “etymology”, it is the study of the history of words. Some people (like me) like to occasionally study the deeper meaning behind words.
Take the words “love” and “work”, for instance…
I am devoid of the belief in coincidence. Life experience taught me a long time ago that 99.9% of the things that happen in this world are not the result of luck or coincidence, but rather happen as a result of deliberate, even if the full effects are unforeseen, actions.
In short, stuff doesn’t just happen, stuff gets done, by people, to people, and for people.
“Love” is as much a concept as it is a description of feelings. That this concept is a four letter word along with the word “work” is not a coincidence to me.
As the Sigmund Freud quote conveys, love requires work in order for any relationship to function in a healthy and fulfilling way. Even the love between a parent and child requires work. As unconditional as the love between a parent and a child, between siblings, and even to our pets tends to be, that love requires work in order for the relationship to flourish as it progresses over time. If unconditional love requires work, conditional love requires work even more so.
So what do I mean by “love requires work”?
Wouldn’t it be nice if two people could fall in love and live happily ever after on just the strength of that mutual feeling?
Very rarely, if ever, is love sustained by mutual feelings alone. Feelings change over time and are influenced by ever-changing circumstances.
Failure to recognize that love requires work results in a 100% failure rate. Love is sustained not by how people feel, but rather by what people do.
Let’s focus on male/female interpersonal relationships…
There is an old adage that a man’s loyalty (to his woman) is tested when he has everything (he wants) and a woman’s loyalty is tested when her man has nothing.
How tempting is it for a man who is spoiled for choice with women while in a committed relationship with a woman to cheat? Think that requires discipline? Remember, discipline requires effort (aka: work).
How tempting it is for a woman to cheat who is in a committed relationship with a man who lost his well-paid job, or who relaxes in the relationship and gains 50 pounds watching football and drinking a keg of beer every day because he now has a wife or girlfriend that he thinks loves him as unconditionally as he loves her, so he stopped putting in the work? Then Brad from accounting or Tyrone the trainer from the gym (indicators of male ambition), starts paying more attention to the wife or girlfriend. What do you think that scenario potentially leads to?
Men bear the burden of performance and women bear the burden of giving her man a reason for bearing that burden. Both require work.
Look behind virtually any relationship breakup and you will likely find some semblance of the above example where one or both of the parties stopped putting in the work to maintain the relationship or lacked the resolve to ever work past mutual feelings.
This dynamic is in play with any relationship, not just romantic relationships.
Remember this salient point…
Love is not just what you say or how you feel, it is most defined and sustained by what you do.
Do. The. Work.
-The Rational Ram